Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.55: Again, What Not to Do

sham'-aavahaM yan niyataM nimittaM
sevyaM na tac cetasi liiyamaane
evaM hi bhuuyo layam eti cittam
an-iiryamaaNo 'gnir iv' aalpa-saaraH

The stimulus ascertained to bring calm

Does not serve when one's mind is dormant;

For thus the mind sinks further into lifelessness,

Like a feeble fire left unfanned.

With regard to fault no. 2 -- non-mobilization of energy, or hypotonus -- again, the first consideration is not what might be the right stimulus to which to give consent, but rather what stimulus might have become a wrong one.

What is under discussion in this verse, it seems to me, is neither meditation nor formalistic sitting practice, but rather a conscious decision not to give consent to a certain pattern of stimulus-response.

Ashvaghosha has presented to us in sexy wrapping paper a meticulous treatise on practice -- a record of an approach to giving up afflictions that had been practised and preserved, through 12 transmissions, from the Buddha through to his own generation. But where in the world today is such an approach being practised?

Maybe it corresponds to what Matthieu Ricard, who belongs to the Tibetan tradition, describes as cultivation or training of the mind -- he also eschews the word "meditation."

Any incipient understanding of this approach that I have got (which cannot be very deep, judging from the emotional waves that continue to buffet me) comes from Alexander work.

EH Johnston:
When the mind is sluggish, he should not resort to the subject of meditation prescribed for inducing tranquillity; for thus the mind becomes still more sluggish, like a fire of little substance when not fanned.

Linda Covill:
The meditational technique prescribe for bringing tranquillity should not be practiced when the mind is depressed, for thus the mind, like a little unfanned fire, sinks still further into depression.

shama: tranquillity , calmness; peace; indifference
aavaham (nom. sg. n.): bringing , bringing to pass , producing
yat (nom. sg. n.): [that] which
niyatam (nom. sg. n.): established, determined, ascertained
nimitttam (nom. sg.): n. cause, stimulus

sevyam (nom. sg. n.): to be used, practised, cultivated
na: not
tat: that, the
cetasi = locative of cetas: mind
liiyamaane = loc. present participle lii: to cling or press closely , stick or adhere to (loc.); to remain sticking ; to lie , recline , alight or settle on , hide or cower down in (loc.)

evam: thus, in this manner
hi: for
bhuuyas: further, still more
layam (accusative): lying down , cowering ; extinction , destruction , death ; mental inactivity , spiritual indifference; making the mind inactive or indifferent
eti = 3rd person singular of i: to go to or towards (with acc.)
cittam (nom. sg.): the mind, the thinking mind

an-iiryamaaNaH (see 16.53): not being fanned
agniH (nominative, singular): fire
iva: like
aalpa: small, little
saaraH (nominative, singular): the core or pith or solid interior of anything ; firmness , strength, power , energy; the substance or essence or marrow or cream or heart or essential part of anything

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